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3 Things That Can’t Wait Until Next Year

Well, the California legislature is at it again. Governor Brown signed several laws that change how employers do business in California. Most of the new laws are effective January 1st and require immediate action, so don’t put this off!

1. Update Your Handbook

You must now add “gender expression” and “genetic information” to the list of protected characteristics in your EEO and Anti-Harassment policies.

You must now maintain an employee’s health insurance benefits at the same level of benefit during an employee’s Pregnancy Disability Leave.  Handbooks must be modified to reflect the new requirement.

2. Revise or Create Offer Letters & Commission Agreements

All employers must now provide the terms of employment in writing prior to commencing work.  In addition to standard information regarding pay rates, the offer letter must specify overtime rates, the regular paydays, and the contact information for the company’s Workers’ Compensation Carrier.  You will also need to provide written notice when any of the designated items changes.

12/29/11 UPDATE

The Labor Commissioner has drafted a template employers should use to comply with new Labor Code Section 2810.5(a).  You can download the template here.

Beginning January 1, 2013, all employees paid on a commission basis must receive written copies of the commission plan specifying “the method by which commissions shall be computed and paid.” Given the complexity of many commission plans, do not wait until the end of 2012 to contact your employment counsel to review the plan and ensure your bases are covered.

3. Rethink Your Hiring Practices

The penalties for willfully misclassifying employees as independent contractors just went up.  This is an extremely high-risk area; so consult with knowledgeable counsel about your workforce status.

Stop conducting financial background checks on applicants or employees until you speak with knowledgeable counsel regarding revisions to California’s privacy laws.  A new law limits which employers can conduct financial background checks and which employees can be the subject of such background checks.

There are many more laws coming into effect in 2012. If you would like to receive a more detailed review of the changes, please send us an email at with the subject line: “Send me the update.”

The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
95 South Market Street, Suite 520
San Jose, CA 95113
Tel. 408-293-6341
Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.
Feel free to suggest topics for the blog. We are happy to consider topics pertaining to general points of Labor and Employment Law, but we cannot answer questions about specific situations or provide legal advice. If you desire legal advice, you should contact an attorney.
Your use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego. The use of the Internet or this blog for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be posted in this blog and the Law Office of Phillip J. Griego cannot guarantee the confidentiality of anything posted to this blog.Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.